African leaders attending an emergency summit in Nairobi on the conflict currently engulfing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have urged an immediate ceasefire and the extension of UN peacekeeping powers in the country, dpa reported.
The summit also called for the creation of humanitarian corridors to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in the North Kivu region of eastern Congo.
Speaking for the African leaders present at the summit, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the peacekeepers' mandate should be amended to give them "peace-making" capabilities and rebel groups in the region should be disarmed according to existing agreements, the BBC reported.
"There should be an immediate ceasefire by all the armed men and militias in North-Kivu," he added.
Other attendees included DR Congo President Laurent Kabila, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania and current chairman of the African Union.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned at the summit of the danger of a widening conflict in the region.
The president of DR Congo had lashed out earlier on Friday at United Nations forces for failing to protect civilians from fighting in the region.
The eastern part of the DR Congo is becoming increasingly destabilized as rebel forces led by General Laurent Nkunda have pressed further westward, to the outskirts of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Nkunda, who was not invited to the conference, says he is fighting to protect Tutsis from armed Hutu groups who fled to DR Congo after the 1994 massacres in Rwanda, when 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Kabila has accused Rwanda of providing support to Nkunda's forces.
"People are being slaughtered and (the peacekeepers) did nothing," said a spokesman for Kabila on the sidelines of the peace conference.
Meanwhile, Nkunda's forces were suspected in a massacre of dozens of young men in the eastern Congo town of Kiwanja, the BBC reported Friday morning.
The BBC said the United Nations was looking into the reports, coming after the rebel forces recaptured the town, which pro- government Mai-Mai militias had briefly controlled.
The report cited relief organization workers as saying that they found dozens of corpses of young men believed to have been Mai-Mai fighters, in the town.
Meanwhile, rebels released the correspondent of a German newspaper who was abducted Tuesday in the DR Congo, the German government confirmed Friday.
Thomas Scheen, 43, the Belgian-born correspondent of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), was taken captive by Mai-Mai militias in the eastern part of Congo on Tuesday.